The streams that flow into Puget Sound and local rivers form an integral part of their physical, biological, and chemical integrity. When those streams are inadequately protected, the consequences affect the water quality in the Deschutes, Nisqually, and Chehalis rivers and Puget Sound water quality. Rivers, streams, and lakes also provide important spawning and rearing habitat for a variety of salmon, and habitat for other aquatic species.
Current conditions ranking for river, stream, and lake basins over time. Current conditions is developed as an indicator based on the following five parameters: basin-wide impervious area and forest cover, vegetation cover in stream riparian zone, water quality rating, and benthic monitoring data from mouth of stream.
Two basins rated as “Intact” in 2006 were re-classified as “Sensitive” in 2011, one basin ranked as “Sensitive” in 2006 was re-classified to “Impacted in 2011, and one basin rated as “Very Degraded” in 2006 was re-classified to “Degraded” in 2011.
Two basins ranked as “Intact” in 2006 and re-classified to “Sensitive” in 2011 due to a decrease in basin-wide forest cover – a result of timber harvest activity. It is expected that their ranking will improve to “Intact” as the forest regrows.
The Offut Lake Basin (part of the Deschutes River Watershed) was ranked as “Sensitive” in 2006 and re-classified to “Impacted” in 2011 – a result of forest harvest activity within the 250-foot riparian corridor along a stream that feeds into the lake. The area is zoned for rural residential development at a density of one unit per five acres.
The Moxlie Creek Basin in Olympia improved in rating, a direct result of improvement in benthic monitoring (B-IBI) scores.
Overall, local organizations are taking steps to protect and improve the health of local rivers, streams, lakes, and the Puget Sound.
It will take a wide-range of efforts to accomplish regional goals, including:
Completing and implementing recommendations from basin studies currently underway, including those in McLane Creek Basin, Woodland Creek Basin, Black Lake Basin, and the Deschutes River Basin
Updating stormwater manuals and development code to encourage low-impact development, including reduction of impervious surfaces and retention of forest cover
Funding habitat restoration projects identified by local planning groups
Additional Information: Two basins rated as “Intact” in 2006 were re-classified as “Sensitive” in 2011, one basin ranked as “Sensitive” in 2006 was re-classified to “Impacted in 2011, and one basin rated as “Very Degraded” in 2006 was re-classified to “Degraded” in 2011.